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Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 




Self-Portrait in a Complex Poem: A New Reading of John 
Ashbery's "Self- Portrait in a Convex Mirror" 
By Karen Pepper 

Poetry by 

Stephen Philbrick 
Colin Harrington 
Eileen Gloster 

Vision and Blindness in Greek Tragedy 

By Gerol Petruzella 

Artwork 

By Greg Scheckler 

Reviews by 

Ben Jacques 
Meera Tamaya 
Robert Bence 



Spring 2001 



Mind's Eye 

A Liberal Arts Journal 



SPRING 2001 



Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 



Editorial Board 



Tony Gengarelly 
Managing Editor 

Robert Bente 

Bob Bishoff 

Harold Brofzman 

Sumi Colligan 

Abbot Cutler 

Steve Green 

Bill Montgomery 

Leon Peters 

Meera Tamaya 

© 2001 The Mind'!: Eye 
ISSN 1098-0512 

Technical assistance from Arlene Bourns 

The Mind's Eye, a journal of scholarly and creative work, is published 
twice annually by Massachusetts College ol Liberal Arts. While em- 
phasizing articles of scholarly merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a gen- 
eral communication of ideas of interest to a liberal arts college. We 
welcome expository essays, including reviews, as well as fiction, po- 
etry and art. Please refer to the inside hack cover for a list of writer's 
guidelines. 

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 

Formerly North Adams State College 

375 Church Street 
North Adams. MA 01247-4100 

Visit our Web site: www.mcla.mass.edu/academics/mindseyexxx 



Mind's Eye 

Spring 2001 



Editor's File 4 

Self -Portrait in a Complex Poem: A New Reading of 
John Ashbery's "Self -Portrait in a Convex Mirror" 

By Karen Pepper 5 

Poetry by 

Stephen Philbrick 17 

Colin Harrington 24 

Eileen Gloster 26 

Vision and Blindness in Greek Tragedy 

By Gerol Petruzella 29 

Artwork 

By Greg Scheduler 35 

Spirits of a Nation and the Voices of Fiction 

Review Essay by Ben Jacques 44 

Traffic: Drugs or Vouchers, Anyone? 

Film Review by Meera Tamaya 49 

Satire or Self-Hatred? 

Book Review by Meera Tamaya 52 

Finding the Heart in Darkness 

Review Essay by Robert Bence 55 



Contributors 



60 



Editor's File 



The Mind's Eye is alive and well. After a number of unsettling issues 
threatened to derail the publication during the fall, it has landed on its 
feet and is now on its way toward a new and exciting beginning. With 
renewed support from the college and an expanded Editorial Board, 
the journal has begun to extend its readership and contributor base 
and is currently in the process of planning an ambitious marketing 
program designed to create a more economically self-sufficient and 
visually appealing product. Accordingly, the journal invites your con- 
tributions, which can range from the scholarly article to short fiction, 
poelry, reviews and artwork. Our aim is to provide an interesting and 
appealing assortment of quality work, from both MCLA faculty and 
an increasing number of guest contributors. 

We celebrate our reinvigorated mission with a Spring 2001 number 
that features the talents of a variety of people. Karen Pepper begins 
with a thought-provoking essay on a classic poem by John Ashbery. 
Her tracing of the enigmatic "Self -Portrait in a Convex Mirror" is ech- 
oed by Gerol Petruzella' s probe into the mysteries of "Vision and Blind- 
ness in Greek Tragedy," a truly inspired piece by a graduating MCLA 
senior. This issue is also graced by a variety of excellent poetry from the 
"pens" of Stephen Philbrick, Colin Harrington and Eileen Gloster. We 
are fortunate to have the opportunity to publish some of Greg Scheckler's 
abstract drawings and to feature as well reviews by Robert Bence, Meera 
Tamaya and Ben Jacques. We welcome this range of creativity and hope 
that future issues will continue to reflect a similar variety of expression. 
The deadline for submissions to the Pall 2001 edition is July 15. 

Tony Gengarelly 
Managing Editor 



4 The Mind's Eye 



Self-Portrait in a 
Complex Poem: 

A New Reading of John 
Ashbery's "Self-Portrait in a 
Convex Mirror'' 

BY KAREN PEPPER 

As silent as a mirror is believed 
Realities plunge in silence by. . . . 

Hart Crane, "Legend" 



Render glass opaque and it becomes a mirror, holding in its 
smooth, unwavering surface the snare of a reflected image, 
Render glass transparent and it becomes a window, a pane of 
thin protection against the vagaries of weather, a clear and undistorting 
conduit. The mirror presents to the viewer an abstracted self; the win- 
dow presents a segment of the world that lies outside the self. Now 
mirror, now window: The work of art provides both artist and ob- 
server the two visions. 

In his magnificent poem "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror," John 
Ashbery directs his gaze not toward a glass surface but toward the self- 
portrait pa in ted in the 1 6th century by the Italian pa i nter Parmigianino . 



The Mind's Eye 5 



Karen Pepper 




Parmigianino (Francesco Mazzola) Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror 1524 
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 



6 The Mind's Eye 



Karen Pepper 



Parmigianino's painting is, however, the first mirror portrait, a rendi- 
tion of what the painter saw in mirroring glass. This was not a flat 
mirror but a convex one; the painting bears the same title as the poem. 

The painting serves Ashbery as the actual mirror served Parmigianino: 
The painting is not only the object of Ashbery's gaze but also that 
which propagates his self-reflection. In both cases, observation is the 
point of entry into artistic creation. Just as Parmigianino gazed into a 
mirror in order to examine the image he would portray in his paint- 
ing, so Ashbery gazes at Parmigianino's portrait in order to find an 
image of himself, to see himself, that is, both as object and as observer. 
The poem thus becomes Ashbery's self-portrait. 

But it becomes clear that the portrait, in both cases, is a limiting 
one, Parmigianino exists for us in his portrait only (or, more precisely, 
in his oeuvre — that portion of his work that has been preserved). We 
know Parmigianino only through what his art portrays; the man is some- 
how locked into or locked up in the work. Ashbery surmises that he 
himself will one day likewise be locked into the poem he has written. 

At first, Parmigianino's self-portrait merely captures the attention 
of the observer; later, its power to seduce becomes overwhelming. 
The image of Parmigianino, at first external to and separate from the 
poet, ultimately invades him, until the poet's difficulty in extricating 
himself from his entangled observation of the pafnting becomes un- 
bearable. It is at this point that the poet's gaze must break off from the 
object of its regard. The poet's gaze, which began in rapture, ends, 
thus, in terror. Finally, the painting will have to be destroyed if the 
poet is to complete his most important task, the creation of his own 
self-portrait; i.e., the writing of the poem. 

It is not the painting but, rather, the intensity of the poet's gaze as 
he observes the painting that ultimately subverts his intention. Art, 
Ashbery seems to be saying, cannot be achieved without lending one- 
self to the world, though this entails the risk that the self will fragment 
or dissolve. Artistic creation is the nearly impossible act of balance 
between sending oneself out and hauling oneself back in, recognizing 
otherness but not being dissolved in it. 

There are three time frames in the poem. First, that in which 
Parmigianino lived and painted, which appears in the discussion of 



The Mind's Eye 7 



Karen Pepper 



the technical aspects of the painting. Second, that in which Ashbery 
observed the painting; in Vienna, in 1959, in the company of Pierre 
(presumably the poet Pierre Martory). Third, that in which Ashbery 
wrote the poem, which was first published in 1972. In the real "present" 
of the poem, the moment of writing, Ashbery is in New York City, and 
what occurred in Vienna exists as a memory. 

It is not accidental that Ashbery chose as the object of his gaze a 
portrait that was painted on a wooden hemisphere rather than a flat 
canvas: It is precisely the curved surface that presents at once a smooth 
exterior and yet tantalizes us with its promise of inner depth or deeper 
significance. Language, Ashbery implies, may have a similar spherical 
quality— the more enticingly beautiful its music, the more entitled we 
feel we are to have it mean something. 

And just as there are no words for the surface, that is, 
No words to say what it really is, that it is not 
Superficial but a visible core, then there is 
No way out of the problem of pathos vs. experience, 
(lines 92-95) 

The distinction between surface and depth, as well as the diffi- 
culty of discerning depth, is conveyed in the image of "a dozing whale 
on the sea bottom / In relation to the tiny, self-important ship / On the 
surface" (77-79). But the reader should not be misled by the playful- 
ness at the surface of this image into ignoring the depth of Ashbery's 
seriousness. In asking whether all is surface, whether, in other words, 
all that we may ha ve of a work of visu al art is, in fan, its appca ranee — 
or ol a poem, its words— Ashbery also asks whether all we can know 
of another life is that which is presented to us, or etched on the sur- 
face; i.e., the person's appearance and behavior — or whether there 
exists an underlying soul, however elusive that may be. (Language 
may lie precisely at the interface.) 

Parmigianino's portrait is extremely lifelike. As the poet imagines 
the eyes that once peered out of the face that is portrayed in the paint- 
ing, he reflects upon the relationship between these eyes, or windows 
of the soul, and the soul that is trapped within the skull, trying desper- 

8 The Mind's Eye 



Karen Pepper 



ately to get out but irrevocably imprisoned: "The soul has to stay where 
it is, / Even though restless" (34-35). The convex mirror is thus also a 
convict's mirror: Ashbery suggests that the artist is imprisoned not 
only by time and the limits of human perception but also by the very 
works of an he has created in order to escape time's imprisonment. 
The work of art, Ashbery suggests, fixes the artist as the person he is at 
the moment of painting (or writing), thereby ending his becoming or 
evolving, even before death places its final seal. 

"The soul establishes itself. / But how far can it swim out through 
the eyes / And still return safely to its nest?" (24-26). In comparing 
the soul first to a fish (it swims) and then to a bird (which returns to its 
nest), Ashbery accomplishes, with extraordinary compression, an ex- 
act rendering of the slipperiness of the concept of soul. 

The hand, the implement of art, is analogous to the soul, insofar 
as it both reaches out from the self and slinks back in. Ashbery begins, 
"As Parmigianino did it, the right hand" ( 1 ) . In the painting, the hand 
seems to be distorted, almost grotesquely large in comparison with 
the rest: 

One would like to stick one's hand 

Out of the globe, but its dimension, 

What, carries it, will not allow it. 

No doubt it is this, not the reflex 

To hide something, which makes the hand loom large 

As it retreats slightly. ( 5 6-6 1 ) 

The hand extends the body outward, toward external reality and 
toward others. It not only paints and writes, however: it offers: It is 
the hand of the artist that releases the work of art, offering it to the 
world. The hand is the agent that transmits art from the intensely 
private or inner domain of the artist to a domain that is more public 
and general; it is the hand that waves goodbye, "Like a wave breaking 
on a rock, giving up / Its shape in a gesture which expresses that shape" 
(199-200). Finally, the hand, "Roving back to the body of which it 
seems / So unlikely a part" (64-65), is presented as a shield, held up to 
protect and hide, eyen as it seeks to reach outward, toward another. 



The Mind's Eye 9 



Karen Pepper 

Evident in these lines is the depth of the ambivalence that lies at the 
heart of the communicative impulse; 

Therefore I beseech you, withdraw that hand. 

Offer it no longer as shield or greeting, 

The shield of a greeting, Francesco: (525-527) 

The facility with which Ashbery shifts the reader's attention from 
Parmigianino's painting to the writing of Ashbery's own self-portrait 
is disarming. Plunged one minute into the recollection of Parmigianino's 
portrait, the poet is, the next minute, distracted. With the section 
beginning "The balloon pops, the attention turns dully away" (1 00- 
101), Ashbery invites the reader to witness something of the process 
by which he writes. Daydreams are not ignored but, like other ran- 
dom and seemingly irrelevant digressions that the mind makes, are 
gathered in, to be accorded a place in the poem. 

This technique of inclusion offers us an important due to the poet's 
process, but also alerts us to the problem of fragmentation of the self, 
which appears to be necessary for creativity, though, if not restrained, 
inimical to it. It is not clear where the self's integrity may lie, in the 
face of all that pulls it apart. When he examines the composition of 
himself, Ashbery finds that "no part / Remains that is surely you" 
(If 2-1 13), so much is one composed of others. There is, he suggests, 
a certain likelihood, present at all times, that the self will disintegrate 
into its myriad components. Perhaps it is possible to compose oneself 
by gazing into that which is truly other — here, the portrait of 
Patmigianino. But the gaze by which the poet strives to find a focus- 
ing center becomes mutual: The painting has become a mirror, which 
gazes back. This returned gaze is not without its danger for the viewer. 
As Lawrence Raab has written in his poem "Permanence ": 

1 can't remember how old I was, 

but 1 used to stand in front 

of the bathroom mirror, tiying to imagine 

what it would be like to be dead. 

1 thought I'd have some sense of it 

if I looked far enough into my own eyes, 



10 The Mind's Eye 



Karen Pepper 



as if my gaze, meeting itself, 

would make an absence, and exclude me. (lines 1-8) 

Likewise, so utterly engaging is Parmigianino's face as Ashbery ob- 
serves it — "the painter's / Reflected face, in which we linger" (495- 
496) — that it holds within it the threat of the poet's annihilation: 

So that you could be fooled for a moment 
Before you realize the reflection 
Isn't yours. You feel then like one of those 
Hoffmann characters who have been deprived 
Of a reflection, except that the whole of me 
Is seen to be supplanted by the strict 
Otherness of the painter ( 2 3 3-2 39 ) 

Absorption in the other is what Parmigianino's portrait provides the 
poet: "This otherness, this / 'Not-being-us' is all there is to look at / In 
the mirror" (476^178). Yet this absorption serves not to expand the 
self but, rather, to annihilate it, at the very moment that one succeeds 
in creating a work of art. And perhaps this is connected to that 
formaldehydelike quality that art seems to have for Ashbery. The self 
is not a fixed entity; rather, as Ashbery suggests, it is fluid and chang- 
ing, but art belies this by fixing the seff, much as photography fixes 
the fluidity of movement into a still image. 

Delving too profoundly into memory is not without the same at- 
tendant risk. Perhaps memory betrays by its sheer inaccuracy, fn the 
lines "I go on consulting / This mirror that is no longer mine" (332- 
333), memory appears to be a false mirror, which distorts as much as 
it portrays. Memory, then, is so inexact as to fail as a mirror, blocking 
our access to the past instead of facilitating it. 

Although art appears to fix time, thereby sustaining the individual, 
at least figuratively, beyond the temporal confinement of his physical 
lifetime, art is no more accurate a mirror of the past than memory. Yet 
these are still the best we have. If memory never yields the fufl truth, 
we are bound to come back to it, again and again. Our perception of 
time, then, is not of something linear but, rather, of something circu- 
lar or omnipresent: "The end is where we start from" (Eliot f44). 



The Mind's Eye 11 



Karen Pepper 



The globe shape of Parmigianino's painting mimics the apparent 
"shape" of time itself: a wheel or cylinder that spins frantically around 
us, producing a tumbled mess of fragmentary images. We are, at any 
given moment, simultaneously aware of all of them and also aware of 
their bizarre simultaneity in the mind — what Ashbery brilliantly calls 
"a magma of interiors" (131). Elsewhere, he refers to the "concentric 
growing up of days / Around a life" (3Q9-310), another image of the 
circularity of time. 

The present, on the other hand, is not entirely comfortable, and 
not merely because it is incomplete. There is in this poem a great am- 
bivalence toward the present, as if it were, at best, a pale film laid 
lightly over the past: "at least / This thing, the mute, undivided present, / 
Has the justification of logic" (437-439) and, elsewhere, "1 think it is 
trying to say it is today / And we must get out of it" (395-396). 

The critic David Kalstone has written that Ashbery "knows the 
present only from before and after, seen as through a terrifying hour- 
glass" (f83). Or perhaps through a flattened hourglass, as Ashbery 
reports: "That is, all time / Reduces to no special time" (403^04), 
again reminiscent of T. S. Eliot, "all time is eternally present" (117). 

The present, the moment of writing, is Ashbery's anchor: 

Today has that special, lapidary 

Todayness that the sunlight reproduces 

Faithfully in casting twig-shadows on blithe 

Sidewalks. No previous day would have been like this. 

I used to think they were all alike, 

That the present always looked the same to everybody 

But this confusion drains away as one 

Is always cresting into one's present. (379-386) 

Yet, even as we seek to have the present moment, to grasp it suf- 
ficiently so as to put it down on paper, it escapes, and the telling in- 
trudes: "twisting the end result / Into a caricature of itself. ... It is the 
principle that makes works of art so unlike / What the artist intended" 
(442-443, 447-448). 

Ashbery thus considers the degree of conscious control that the 



12 The Uind\ Eye 



Karen Pepper 



artist can exert over the work. The artist's intention is evidently sub- 
ordinate to something else, which Ashbery never quite names. The 
poet finds: 

He has omitted the thing he started out to say 

In the first place. Seduced by flowers, 

Explicit pleasures, he blames himself (though 

Secretly satisfied with the result), imagining 

He had a say in the matter and exercised 

An option of which he was hardly conscious. 

Unaware that necessity circumvents such resolutions 

So as to create something new 

For itself, that there is no other way, (449-457) 

These lines echo Randall Jarrell's remark, in his essay "The Obscurity 
of the Poet," "The poet writes his poem for its own sake, for the sake 
of that order of things in which the poem takes the place that has 
awaited it" (21). Ashbery continues: 

that there is no other way, 
That the history of creation proceeds according to 
Stringent laws, and that things 
Do get done in this way, but never the things 
We set out to accomplish and wanted so desperately 
To see come into being (457-462) 

And it is not only Ashbery's art that gets done in this fashion, 
but all art: "Parmigianino / Must have realized this as he worked at 
his / Life-obstructing task" (462-464). The artist can fully live only 
through his art, even though, paradoxically, it is "life-obstructing." 
The work of art, or, more precisely, the process by which it is created, 
may consume the artist. In the poem, the terror of being consumed 
by art becomes apparent as the poet begins figuratively to demol- 
ish the painting. Parmigianino, it turns our, was only "Aping 
naturalness" (516): what he thereby produced "Remains a frozen 
gesture of welcome etched / On the air materializing behind it, / A 
convention" (519-521). 



The Mind's Eye 13 



Karen Pepper 



That the poet's gaze outward has hindered him from achieving his 
own self-portrait gradually becomes clear. His fascination with 
Parmigianino's painting represents both absorption into the other to 
the point of losing himself and absorption into the past to the point of 
failing to seize the present. Finally, a point of desperation is reached: 
"There is room for one bullet in the chamber" (528). Time, however, 
will do the job more cleanly than any bullet. Pushed into the past by 
the intrusive present, Parmigianino falls back "at a speed / Faster than 
that of light to flatten ultimately / Among the features of the room" 
{530-532). Once Parmigianino has been swept away, the poet's own 
creative work can proceed. Thus, the sooner the conventions of other 
artists "are burnt up / The better for the roles we have to play" ( 523-524). 

For Ashbery, the creative act hurls us into the present, even as 
time does. Perhaps creativity is an affirmation of time. The present, 
though, this strange simultaneity of anticipation and its fulfillment, 
has a tentative, tenuous quality. Certainly, love is of the present. 
Ashbery speaks of love as being "shadowed, invisible, / Though mys- 
teriously present, around somewhere" (346-347). In tinkering with 
the notion that love is not located in time or place, Ashbery finds it, 



Some wear as a sign makes one want to 
Push forward ignoring the apparent. 
Naivete of the attempt, not caring 
That no one is listening, since the light 
Has been lit once and for all in their eyes 
And is present, unimpaired (355-361) 

All art may be portraiture of the self, either looked at head-on, as 
with the declared self-portrait or memoir, or looked at through the 
lens of something outside ourselves, be it the portrait of another per- 
son or the description of a landscape, which we "see" by imaginatively 
projecting ourselves into it. It is the self we come back to. Confronted 
with Parmigianino's portrait, the observer comes back again and again 
to his own thoughts, memory and artistic process, to the need to es- 

li The Mind's Eye 




But the look 



Karen Pepper 

cape from himself and the impossibility of doing so. Thus, a closed 
circle or sphere appears to be drawn around the self: "the soul is not 
a soul, / Has no secret, is small, and it fits / Its hollow perfectly: its 
room, our moment of attention" (44-46). 

what Ashbery has done is to make explicit that process by which 
we expend ourselves at the task of writing. Art appears in this poem 
to be that which enables us to explore the fluid transition between 
self-reflection and the observation of what lies outside the self. Through 
art, we attempt to breach the temporal and geographical limits of 
our existence as individuals, but it doesn't quite work. Rather, art 
exists for its own sake and for whatever will be made of it by others at 
some time in the future. The poet, however generous his offering, 
must remain enclosed within the sphere of himself, with its encumbent 
limitations. 

The poem may be able to take that ultimate leap away from the 
self, detaching itself from the poet and existing in some "intersoul- 
ular" space, where it is deeply available to others — in this case, to us, 
the readers. Thus, art does escape the endlessly self-referential circle 
in which the individual mind moves, but as it does so, it moves away 
from the artist who produced it. At that postpartum moment when 
the work of art feaves the hand of the artist, it belongs entirely to a 
world that must, in order to understand it, fill it with its own projected 
desires and intentions. And what the artist put into his art — his very 
soul — may have little connection, if any, to what will subsequently be 
drawn from it. Art would not be art, however, if it were not imbued 
with the qualities of the observer: 

But it is certain that 
What is beautiful seems so only in relation to a specific 
Lite, experienced or not, channeled into some form 
Steeped in the nostalgia of a coflective past (325-328) 

Without our experience, memory and sensibility, we the observers 
could not inform the painting, or the poem, sufficiently to appreciate 
it; that is, to give it the only meaning it can have for us. 

On the other hand, and tragically, as the work of art comes to 



The Minds Bye 15 



Karen Pepper 

belong to the world. It no longer belongs to the artist, who is left in a 
state of perpetual bereavement lor what he has bequeathed. The work 
of art will belong, ultimately, to those viewers (or readers) whose in- 
tensity of observation can render it meaningful, much as Ashbery, by 
the intensity of his gaze, renders meaningful the portrait of Parmigianino. 
The work of the artist, then, involves giving oneself over to the art, so 
that others may later partake. 

The poem belongs to the poet only In the present, at the moment 
he is writing, "our moment of attention." No matter how much of 
himself lies sealed within it, the poem, once written, is no longer his 
to keep. Ashbery refers to the time that he was with Pierre in Vienna 
not to recapture that time but to acknowledge its transience. The loss 
of that moment, however, is but a pale reffection of the greater loss 
that writing the poem represents. Ashbery has poured his soul into 
his poem only to realize that this is where it will remain. With this 
realization, his hand returns to stillness. The poem has become the 
visible aspect of the soul, that part of it that will extend through time. 
This exquisitely wrought surface is always present, ft Is that which 
now requests our gaze, 

Works Cited 

Ashbery, John. "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." Selected Poems. 
New York: Penguin, f985. 

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. "Four Quartets." The Complete Poems and Plays. 
New York: Hareourt, Brace, 1962, 

Jarrell, Randall. "The Obscurity of the Poet." Poetry and the Age. 
London: Faber, 1955. 

Kalstone. David. Five Temperaments. New York: Oxford UP, 1977. 

Raab, Lawrence. "Permanence." The Probable World. New York: 
Penguin, 2000. 



16 TheMmd'sEye 



Three Poems 

BY STEPHEN PHILBRICK 



I Seldom Think of You 

I seldom think of you. 
I walk out upon you, 
Breathe within you. 
Beat your blood. 

I never remember you. 
Every member, every cockle finger. 
Every part I could lose, every part I can't, 
Is you. 

I made children after you 
And thrilled with -loss. 
And lost the resemblance 
As they grew into it. 

I never call your name. 

No fish in the ocean says "water." 

[ hear it, wave on wave, stone on stone. 

The storm beyond the surface. 

I seldom think of you; 

All I do is touch you. 

Pain is no lesson, joy is no less. 

I live you now, others will later, 



The Mind's Eye 17 



Stephen Philbrkk 



Nothing Lived 

Stop thinking about dying and loss. 
Stop denying dying and loss, as well. 
Forget them; and river, bank, and course. 

Remember only motion of water — moss 

And stones fall back — and the motion at mind's end. 

Only shoulders, only ripple: never horse. 

They are songs for the wedding of us and Is. 
Yes, of: you-and-knock to: open-and-All. 
The ones within each other, at last, lost. 

Stop thinking about spring and silence. 

Stop denying spring in silence or hell, 

Summer and increase never explain themselves. 

Any idea was ours, such as thorn or ruse. 

Just the kind of soil that invites anthills: 

The comet neutered in the goat's sack; who chose? 

Stop thinking about dying and loss. 

There is a drop for every drop in the well. 

The Law's in each lace; broken; the word's in each shell. 

Don't forget, don't remember; nothing lived is lost. 



18 The MindS Eye 



Stephen Philbrick 



Love Story for a Cold Climate 

The best take place on islands; 

We can pretend they are local and ours, 

They demand plains in flame in the background. 

Mountains are too true to be trusted: What if they don't melt? 

Nevertheless, like old friends and new thieves, they take us in. 

Removing the hook removes some flesh. 

Leaving the hook removes the fish. 

I 

On a cold day in heaven, 1 continued to cut wood. 
My going out was marked by breath. 
My essence met the world 
And gave me up in steam. 

We lose ourselves in work, they say. 

Below zero, we lose ourselves if we don't work. 

What we do saves us 

From all other deaths but ours. 

What we do heats us 

In a furious friction with the world. 

And so we begin, and so we burn. 
And so we wear away. 

The arms begin the famous warming. 
They cradle and brace, 

They rock and they raise the saw like a child. 



The Mind's Eye 19 



Stephen PMbrick 

The blood had it, from the start. 

Back from the twinning rivers cast of the heart 

To the least streams, to the trickle. 

To something broken somewhere on the Outer Peninsula 
And a nose that blooms like a pickle. 

The eyes have it. 

But theirs is a bright ice. 

The hands have it and lose it. 

The feet get it last. 
If at all. 

The wind finds wormholes in the lungs. 
The sweet tunnels all are chapped. 
The chapels blank with snow. 
The promise red with cold. 
Inhaling hurts, the motions thicken, 
The skin thins. 

The afternoon insists with silent thunder 

Except behind the bark, where worms winter under. 

II 

We lose ourselves in wish, they say. 
In the middle of my century 
I am lost, at last, in Wednesday. 

My wishes limber, but trees fall. 

Asleep or waking, dreams become 

The snows of childhood, the tune behind the hum. 

Sawdust mounts up /It grieves, it renders: the maul. 



20 The Minds Eye 



Stephen Philbrick 



I am lost at last in Wednesday, 

Burly as a bee. sore as a woken bear. 

The cold becomes crystal, slowly, immensely. 

An exhibit under glass, me; rock candy, the air. 

The oblivious saw which would take my leg as soon as pine. 

The saw is hot, I can see. 

And everything that air touches burns, 

Whether hot or cold I cannot tell. 

When two cord is unnerved from earth 

And cloven, cut, and laid to rest, 

The dark comes from somewhere: 

Does it rise, or fall, or does it lie? 

Above the white ground, below the white sky. 

It is time (and tale, and sense) to go: 

The woods all know our way, our wake. 

We follow our letters backward to Babel, 

Not through the daylight, but through the snow. 

Ill 

We know by now the old stories are true. 
The woodcutter comes at dusk or after 
To a light, a low roof, and, later, laughter. 
In the dark was a window, in the window: you. 

I went into the warm pottery 

Where you worked the ancient dirt and present water 
Like the son you had, and like the daughter. . . . 
With the wheel, against the turn, motion in poetry. 

I stood in the middle, so stiff and strong 
I feared I'd shatter the unglazed plates. 
I didn't steam, at first, 

But you said the cold came off me in waves. 
I'm not cold, I said. 



The Mind's Eye 21 



Stephen Philbrick 
I myself AM cold. 

It was the terrible knowledge of what we become. 

It was (he terrible knowledge that we become 

And are more than just our future 

And more than just our off-color interior:,, 

All those almost vegetable shapes. 

We are become something else to our children 

And they in their new lives 

Love us, fear us, dream us, talk us back to size 

In therapists' offices, other beds 

And long walks alone the river. 

We are something other, even in a small room, 
1 came out of the woods and into your wilderness. 
Unlike me, you want to sleep and work to dream. 
I was finally cold and began to steam. 

You were warm and puzzled . 
You looked up from your work. 
Which demands looking down 

And watching your hands do what they do and why; 
An anthropologist of sorts, at least your eye. 

You were not just you or your hands 

But the work between, and warm and puzzled. 

Still in the center — not the music. 

Not the dancer or the partner, but the dance. 

You wiped your hands 

And you waited like the clock on the shelf 

For a creature who could be cold itself 

And give it off, as life gives heat 

And trees give leaves and space gives way to sweet. 



22 The Mind's Eye 



Stephen Philbrkk 



Ifeitso large, so locked, 

So unknown, so Antarctic. 

My vapors so true, the tremble so deep. 

They shuddered the room and changed the day. 

I noticed I needed to take a breath, 

Siowly warming back to life, that is, toward death. 

IV 

Our teachers have always been cold and heat. 
We breathe the steam that cither gives to each. 
And learn by pain, even a body's safer to touch 
Than intimate air that burns too cold, too much. 

1 lost the lesson and inhabited cold 

As grief inhabits birth, as flame the tree. 

Then something happened, something more than old: 

Complete, you came to the edge; you came to me. 

Like time to a moment, seed to strange ground, 
First day to first night — and you stayed. 

While I thawed to mortal, the debt to sense was paid. 
Eternity went up in smoke and longing in a sound. 

Your hands dripped extra life; your wheel, it was true. 
You called to all there is that needs to be found 
And wants to be lost — you put your talent down 
And lifted up your laugh the way you do 
And said to all that's still outside, "I love even you." 



The Mind's Eye 23 



Two Poems 

BY COLIN HARRINGTON 



Wellfleet at Low Tide 

We feel the drag uf the sea and the 

horizon in the shallows, Farther 

out, the continents! shelf drops off. 

Perilous in waves up to his chest, 

a man in waders is casting. 

We go out to meet him at the surf, 

walking over the ocean floor 

through slippery rocks and boulders. 

We turn to measure our distance 

from the contours of land and 

shrinking people, The farther 

out on the slippery flats we go, 

the keener our sense of belonging there, 

hugging the tide drawn 

over the world, dissolved 

in the rounding sound of the sea. 



liThe Mind's Eye 



The Return of the Fishing Boats 
Giovanni Boldini 
Etretat, 1879 

With the waves, 

shorebirds gravitate 

to returning fishing boats 

anchored against the 

outgoing tide. They 

want fish, still flopping 

in the hulls and dying sun 

on the calm opal ocean. 

Here, fishermen are gods. 

Well-dressed bourgeoisie, 

crowding around the bending, 

bewildered boatmen, 

are humbled and the 

fishermen are embarrassed 

with accomplishment 

and fatigue, fisherwives 

stand or pace impatiently 

with too much to do, preoccupied 

with life and death tome 

home once again. 



The Mind's Eye 25 



Two Poems 

BY EILEEN GLOSTER 

An Act of Contrition 

My kneeling daughter has no use 
For faith: She sees angels in snow; 
Knows God as surely as the spruce 
That spirals blue beyond her window. 
When night folds its wings around her tree. 
She prays to God, her confidant, and friend: 
"I am so sorry for having offended thee," 
So sweetly sure of someone to offend. 
And 1 fold my hands to offer praise 
For snow that falls like grace on barren trees, 
Strain to feel the sureness of those days 
When God blessed every single sneeze, 
But like old Dostoyevsky's tongue-tied fraud 
Can stammer only, "1—1 shall believe in God." 



26 The Mind's Eye 



Living in Skin 



i. 

Know me from the outside 
in. Skin, the line 
where I end. You 
begin. Perhaps 
eyes lead to soul, but first 
learn hollow, plane, and curve. 
Meet kneecap, knuckle, 
eyelid, nose. Spend time 
on the surface of things. 

2. 

The ribs again. 

Shadows split your breast, 

shrink with every breath. 

You curl your lips 
slowly in to wet them. 
Glance out. 

We hold you 
in exhale, ink 
and charcoal 

until you swing 
your arms 
over your head, 

rib lines delicately 
revealed. Beauty 
so close to hunger. 

The Mind's Eye 27 



Eileen Gloster 

3 

I love my hones, 

thin white Halloween spook 

holding me up. 

4. 

The emptiness of sand — 

wide, white stretches 

of almost nothing. 

Rock worn down 

to grit between sheets. 

a landscape of glare and shadow. 

Yet, when I emerge 
wet from the sea and lie 
on the shore, sand clings 
to my skin, conforming, 
confirming this body's form. 



28 The Minds Eye 



Vision and Blindness 
in Greek Tragedy 

BY GEROL PETRUZELLA 



ncient Greek society recognized the close and indissoluble 



bonds that exist among perception, knowledge, action and 



J~ A. happiness. The process or state of being in the world begins 
with correct perception of oneself and the world, predicated upon 
which is the correct interpretation of this information — understand- 
ing the forms and relationships of those things perceived, whether 
necessary or incidental. Only once the individual has perceived the 
world and ordered these raw sensory data within a rational/emotive 
framework can s/he take action in relation to other humans, as well 
as to the gods. Because of the interconnectedness of each step in this 
chain, the attainment of eudaimonia, happiness or well-being of the 
soul, is not simply dependent on correct action, nor even upon correct 
motivation. Rather, the Greek worldview encompasses a more robust 
perspective on virtue, one that evaluates the individual's perception 
and interpretation — that is, the individual's vision, both literal and 
conceptual. 

Each of three particular dramatis personae in Greek drama — the 
prophetess Cassandra in Aeschylus' Agamemnon, and the seer Teiresias 
and Oedipus himself in Sophocles' Oedipus cycle — deals with vision in 




The Mind's Eye 29 



Gero! Petritzella 

a different way, However, the playwrights' portrayals of them are all 
consistent with the Greek Weltanschauung; each character, while per- 
ceptive in a particular area, lacks the total vision that would character- 
ize a divine being. Cassandra, though possessor of divinely granted 
foresight, nevertheless is blind and mad in everyone's eyes, because of 
Apollo's curse upon her. Teiresias, similarly prophetic, is physically 
blind; and Oedipus enjoys both physical and intellectual clarity of vi- 
sion, but utter blindness of soul, gaining self-knowledge only after his 
act of self -blinding. The incompleteness of vision of each of these three 
characters illustrates the Greeks' conception of the human condition; 
namely, that some shortfalf of total vision is an integral part of hu- 
manity — the combination of sight and insight lies solely in the do- 
main of the gods. Cassandra and Teiresias recognize this fact, and their 
recognition aflows them to pursue that eudaimonia which is the end of 
human beings. Oedipus, on the other hand, initially fails to see his 
own blindness, and so falls into the snare of hubris, pride that exceeds 
the scope proper to human beings, through an unjustified confidence 
in his own perceptive and intuitive capabilities — capabilities that, 
though useful in their own sphere, are unsuitable substitutes for the 
insight he lacks. In each case, the playwrights' portrayal of these indi- 
viduals—their characteristic limitations of vision and the attitudes they 
take in relation to these limits — exemplifies and supports their culture's 
conception of the role of sight in the meaning of human existence. 

Aeschylus' portrayal of Cassandra, like that of his contemporary 
Pindar (Hammond 211), gives the explanation that her foresight, 
though a gift of Apollo, is accompanied by the god's curse that her 
prophecies will always be disbelieved. It is important to understand 
the cause of this curse in order to appreciate its implications. Cassandra 
initially spurned Apollo's romantic advances, wanting no part of his 
attentions. Due to the insistence of the god, she agreed to his demands, 
resulting in his giving her prophetic sight— his particular provenance. 
The symbolism is intriguing; Cassandra is faced with a situation wherein 
she risks losing her identity as a human being — if she submits to the 
god, she gains the prophetic sight in addition to her own vision, and 
she, most likely, given the classical mythological tradition, will at the 



30 The Mind's Eye 



Gerol Petruzella 



least bear offspring who will partake of the divine nature through their 
father, diminishing her relevance as a human being in her own right, 
and making her merely the outlet for the divine perpetuation of the 
Olympians and their clan. True, she would gain honor, and a sort of 
divinity by proxy through her progeny, as well as through her pro- 
phetic abilities; however, the basis for her own humanity — the virtue 
of moderation, in sight, and especially with regard to sophrosyne, the 
"right thinking" or knowledge of one's place in the world — would be 
eliminated in the bargain. She would be abstracted from her self as an 
actual human being, and would instead become a symbolic entity, an 
abstract generative divine principle, embodied and identified solely as 
the consort and counterpart of Apollo, god of prophecy. 

Cassandra ultimately breaks her word to Apollo, refusing to yield 
to him and to this divine, dehumanizing fate. Since Apollo has already 
bestowed the prophetic gift upon her, he is faced with an untenable 
scenario: Cassandra, though refusing to trade her humanity for the 
mythic status offered her, nevertheless possesses complete vision as 
the result of Apollo's gift. In order 10 avoid this unnatural situation, 
the god limits his gift by canceling its intended benefits and making ii 
essentially worthless by precluding the possibility of its fulfilling its 
essence. Prophecy is an active form of sight; it is unlike physical sight, 
for example, in that it does not benefit only, or even primarily, the 
seer him/herself. Rather, by its nature, prophetic vision is exercised 
on behalf of others, bringing knowledge and perception to them, and 
not simply to the subject/perceiver. Hence, Cassandra's prophetic vi- 
sion — a vision divested of any possibility of credibility — is made imper- 
fect, restoring Cassandra to her condition as a human being who must 
seek the mean of virtuous action within the context of her limited sight. 
Her refusal to trade her humanity for the semidivinity offered to her by 
Apollo is a telling embodiment of the Greek virtue of sophrosyne. 

Teiresias in Sophocles' Oedipus cycle is another character who suc- 
cessfully comes to terms with his incomplete vision as an integral part 
of his state as a human being, and thereby demonstrates his integration 
of the virtue of sophrosyne into his character. His acquisition of proph- 
ecy was the result of an incident in his youth when he accidentally 



The Mind's Eye 31 



Cerol Petruzella 

witnessed the goddess Athena bathing. She did not cause his death 
but blinded him, and gave him the power Of prophetic insight in 
compensation for taking his sight. Again, as in Cassandra's case, the 
granting of prophecy to a human being is necessarily balanced with 
a diminution of some other type of sight — inTeiresias' case, his physi- 
cal sight. Also similarly to Cassandra, Teiresias must deal with his sight 
in relation to a divinity associated with vision — Athena, patron deity 
of wisdom. An important respect in which Teiresias deals with his limi- 
tations of vision is his reliance on his boy to relate, for example, the 
motions of birds for his augury (Sophocles 231). Teiresias recognizes 
the necessity of relying on others' vision where his own is wanting; 
yet he equally recognizes where his own sight is keen and trustwor- 
thy—in prophecy— and stands behind it: "Where argument's con- 
cerned/1 am your man, as much a king as you" (Sophocles 22). The 
blind seer successfully combines both his keen insight and his lack of 
eyesight in his character as a human being, and avoids the dangers of 
excess that accompany the vicious characteristic of hubris. 

In contrast with Cassandra and Teiresias— two examples of indi- 
viduals who successfully integrate their incomplete forms of sight into 
their understanding of their condition as human beings — stands Oe- 
dipus, who egregiously fails to recognize or accept his shortcomings of 
sight. Oedipus is a man of keen intellectual perception: He is ruler of 
the polis of Thebes, having gained that position by solving the riddle 
of the Sphinx, who had oppressed the city lor many years. Time and 
again, Oedipus is described as a solver of riddles (Sophocles 5, 22, 24 
et aj,|; and he comes to rely upon his cognitive abilities in all matters. 
Unfortunately, he does not accept that his lack of knowledge about his 
own past and origins lies beyond the scope of this intellect upon which 
he has come to rely. Thus, he refuses to recognize that his own sight is 
inadequate to penetrate the mystery that faces him in Oedipus Rex— 
the mystery of his birth, and of his crimes of patricide and maternal 
incest. In marked contrast with Teiresias, who accepts assistance from 
those whose sight surpasses his, Oedipus rejects out of hand Teiresias' 
attempts to show him the truth, preferring instead to accuse the seer 
of selling his reputation to support a plot by Creon to usurp the throne 



32 The Mind's Eye 



Gerol Petruzrtla 



(Sophocles 21). Oedipus, unlike Cassandra and Teiresias, believes that 
it is possible for him to be entirely self-reliant and capable of foresee- 
ing the consequences of his actions. The idea that he might listen to 
Teiresias' advice — advice from one whose ability in prophecy was well 
known, and whose integrity was never in doubt — is not only not con- 
sidered but rejected as unworthy even of consideration; for if Teiresias' 
prophecy were even remotely true, that would destroy Oedipus' con- 
ception of his own self-sufficiency, and would force the king to admit 
to his shortcomings of sight. Thus, Oedipus' condition is one of com- 
pounded blindness: Not only is he blind to his own past and to the 
meaning of the prophecies of his predestined crimes, but he also will- 
fully chooses to blind himself to his own limitations, choosing to deny 
that they exist, and relying on his necessarily limited human vision as 
though it were complete. His anagnorisis— the recognition of the truth 
of his past— is devastating because it shatters his carefully cultivated 
sense of hubris. Oedipus' hamartia is in his blindness; his humanity — 
and hence his hope of attaining tudaimonia— rests with successfully 
recognizing and accepting his limitations of vision as a human being, 
and his failure to do this is the tragic element in Sophocles' portrayal. 

Classical Greek culture entailed a complex system of beliefs about 
the nature of human existence. The idea of virtue signified more than 
a particular morally praiseworthy act or disposition. It was regarded as 
the essence of true humanity, dependent not on right action or laud- 
able decision alone but on true perception as well. This component of 
sight was just as essential to human virtue as choice or action; a cor- 
rect perception of one's strengths and limitations, and the recognition 
of these circumstances as forming one's humanity, were the hallmark 
of a truly virtuous and complete human being. It is important to un- 
derstand that true sight does not mean complete sight; on the con- 
trary, the Greeks saw such full vision as divine, and hence outside the 
bounds of human experience. Rather, true sight was the understand- 
ing of the inherent limits of one's sight, and the willingness to accept 
those limits. 



The MindS Eye 33 



Carol Paruzdla 



Bibliography 

Aeschylus. The Oresteia. Trans, David R. Slavitt. Philadelphia: 
U of Pennsylvania P, 1998. 9-68. 

Easterling, P. E., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. New 
York: Cambridge UP, 1 999. 324-347. 

Hammond, N. G. L., and H. H. Scullard, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictio- 
nary. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970, 

Sophocles. The Oedipus Cycle. Trans. Dudley Fitis and Robert Fitzgerald. 
New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1977. 



34 The Mind's Eye 



Artwork 



BY GREG SCHECKLER 



Artist's Statement 

In the past century, artists developed radical ways of making art 
based in nonrepresentational methods. But criticism from theo- 
rists such as Claude Levi-Strauss and Ernst Gombrich attacked 
nonrepresentational art for its lack of recognizable symbols (Levi- 
Strauss, Gombrich). Lacking a well-established grammar of images, 
what does the artwork mean? How can we determine if it is good or 
intelligently made? Even the artist Kandinsky noted his own difficulty 
in giving up on immediately recognizable imagery: "A terrifying abyss 
of all kinds of questions, a wealth of responsibilities stretched before 
me. And most important of all: What is to replace the missing 
object?"(Kandinsky 370). 

Artists such as Jackson Pollock replaced imagery with unconscious, 
randomized processes of art making. They also focused on the mate- 
rial basis of paint in their works— its lively color, fluidity and viscosity. 
But these artists could not entirely disregard representation and tech- 
nique. Instead of creating recognizable symbols, they left documen- 
tary drippy tracings of the movement of the body, the frenetic rhythms 
of postwar America, jazzy improvisation and distinct lineages of color 
theory (Gage). Given these precise connections, labeling artworks "ab- 
stract" seems misleading. The artworks should be seen as allusions, 
not illusions. 

In retrospect, I think that "action painting," in its emphasis on the 
messy, active process of making art out of which order and rationale 
arise closely models the best current descriptions of consciousness. 



The Mind's Eye 35 



Greg Scheckler 



The mind is a biological, measurable entity utilizing massively parallel 
throughput with no apparent center, and action precedes conscious 
awareness by about half a second (Dennett, Blackmore). Although it's 
an eternity in terms of neuronal activity, half a second suggests, paint 
fast- And then paint fast again. The mind is not a mystery but, rather, 
a series of biological, rhythmic interactions. If we accept contempo- 
rary theories of the mind, then in using noneonscious, nonrepresen- 
tational, speedy methods for making art, we can modify art theory. 
We do not require abstract art theories built out of 1950s existential- 
ism, surrealism, spirituality or outdated Freudian models of the mind. 
Nor do wc need postmodern theory. Deconstructivism did not build 
the Hubble Space Telescope or invent abstract painting. Responding 
fully to contemporary theories of consciousness also means dropping 
the heroic, metaphysical, idealized formations that so many modern- 
ist (and latety postmodernist) painters sought, because if we accept 
the new philosophy of consciousness, then we must also accept the 
efficacy of the scientific method. Art, like scientific endeavors, points 
toward demonstrable, fakifiable truths. Of course, linking with truth 
brings with it all the thorny cultural, material and ethicai quandaries 
of scientific methods. Indeed, the sophomoric defense of "I don't know 
what that art means, but I know what I like" — de gustibus nan est 
dkputandem — does not apply when art is based in objective measures. 
Subjective tastes are no longer the main point. 

My first professional paintings, in 198S, were abstract designs in- 
spired by colliding water waves, specifically those in Lake Michigan. 
To this ululating birth cry I've slowly added gestural, scribbly, calli- 
graphic marks, plus collage. Sketchy studies of microscopic cells and 
quantum tracings pair with macroscopic shapes from galaxies and 
nebulae. Loose entoptic grids become rows of cells. Meandering 
scribbles become supernovas. Specifically, I would like to point to the 
piece Osalloborealis. The central motif came from an oscilloscope, plus 
scribblings I made after watching the northern lights undulate. An- 
other piece. Fold Galaxy Skin, contains a long vertical section on the 
right indirectly inspired by skin wrinkles and pigmentations. Maybe 
as metaphor the science-laden residue within these artworks begs the 



36 The MindS Eye 



Greg Scheckler 



question "Where do we, given dear evidence of a strange, scientifi- 
cally verifiable grandeur in which we participate, place ourselves mean- 
ingfully?" To me, that question lacks the precise beauty of making 
smears of paint or ink. Yet even if we find no good verbal or painterly 
responses to such questions, artistic activity rooted in verifiability, evi- 
dential reasoning and scientific innovation today replaces Kandinsky's 
missing object. 

Works Cited 

Blackmore, Susan. "What Can the Paranormal Teach Us About 
Consciousness?" Skeptical Inquirer. Mar. -Apr. 2001. 

Dennett, Daniel. Consciousness Explained. Little, Brown, 1991. 

Gage, John. Color and Meaning: Art, Science, and Symbolism. 
U of California P, 1999. 

Gombrich, Ernst. Meditations on a Hobby Horse. 1963. Phaidon, 1985. 

Kandinsky, Wassily. Complete Writings on Art. Ed. Kenneth Lindsay and 
Peter Vergo. Da Capo, 1993. 

Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Raw and the Cooked. Trans. John and Doreen 
Weightman. 1970. U of Chicago P, 1983. 



The Mind's Eye 37 




Oscilloborealis. 14" xl 7" ink and pencil on paper 



38 The Mind's Eye 



Greg Scheckkr 




Interference Wave Emanations 



The Mind's Eye 39 



Greg Scheckler 




Greg Scheckler 




Fold Galaxy Skin 



Greg ScbKkltr 




Twin Gestures 



42 The Mind's Eye 



Greg Scheckler 




Code Relay Helix 



The Mind's Eye 43 



Review Essay 



Spirits of a Nation and 
the Voices of Fiction 

In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez 
Algonquin Books, 2000 

BY BEN JACQUES 

Every story has many voices, but not every storyteller can weave 
those voices into memorable fiction. Such, however, is the art- 
istry of Dominican-American poet and novelist Julia Alvarez, 
who captured a wide audience in 1991 with her first novel, How the 
Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. In Garcia Girls, Alvarez lets each of the 
four sisters tell her own tale as she seeks her identity in an American 
culture sharply at odds with the familial conservatism of a Dominican 
heritage. At various points in their young lives, the Garcia sisters rebel 
against their parents, fight over boyfriends, marry, enter professions, 
get divorced. But although they stretch the familial bonds, they don't 
allow them to snap. Family may be both blessing and curse, but it is 
family. 

In iYol, the 1 997 sequel to Garcia Girls, Alvarez brings more voices 
onto the stage, cleverly allowing all those "fictionally victimized" by 
Yolanda in her first novel, including her parents, to have their say. But 
it is In her acclaimed historical novel In the Time of the Butterflies ( 1 994) 
that Alvarez masters the art of multivoice narration. With penetrating 
insight, she re-creates the personalities of las mariposas, the four daugh- 
ters of a Dominican farmer, as they are drawn into the struggle against 



44 The Mind's Eye 



Ben Jacques 



the dictatorship of General Rafael Trujillo. The result is a richly char- 
acterized fabric of individuality within family. While Dede, the only 
one to survive TrujUlo's brutality, is portrayed in third -person narra- 
tion, Minerva and Patria tell their stories in the first person. The young- 
est, Maria Teresa, reveals herself to us through entries in her diary. 

By creating fictional characters for the Mirabal sisters, Alvarez de- 
mythologizes them. She brings them to life again, not as saints but as 
ordinary girls and women who respond to oppression out of their deep 
personal values. 

The ink of Butterflies was barely dry, as Alvarez puts it, when she 
began work on a second historical novel, the life of Salome Urena de 
Henriquez, 19th-century Dominican poet, patriot and educator. True 
to form, Alvarez recognized Salome's life as the story of a family — a 
story of many voices — told through the eyes of Salome and her daugh- 
ter. Cam i la Henriquez Urena. 

In the Name of Salome is Alvarez' most elaborately structured novel, 
containing a prologue and 16 paired chapters. The first chapter opens 
in war-torn Santo Domingo in 1856 in the first-person voice of Salome. 
She is six, anci just beginning to understand that the charming, witty 
gentleman stopping by for a visit is her father, separated from her 
mother. The next chapter jumps more than a century to the year 1960 
in the United States. Camfla, Salome's daughter, has just decided to 
retire from a career as a Vassar College professor and return to the 
Caribbean. As the book unfolds, the intertwining stories of mother 
and daughter approach each other in time and spirit, even as the titles, 
set in English and Spanish, mirror each other in inverse pattern. 

The book's design, which an editor has compared to a sestina, "is 
something I perceived from the structure of poetry," Alvarez com- 
ments. "1 like to think of my novels as having a songlike structure," 

Born six years after national independence from Spain, and ex- 
actly a century before Alvarez, Salome Urena inspired patriotism and 
reform during one of the most turbulent epochs of Dominican history, 
scarred by civil wars and a succession of dictators. She was raised in a 
modest home by a conservative mother and aunt and inspired by her 
poet and diplomat father. As a teenager, she begins writing passionate, 



The Mind's Eye 45 



Ben Jacques 

frank poems about love and politics, using a pen name known only by 
her father. When the potentially seditious poems find their way into 
print, even her unwitting, timid mother praises them for expressing 
"what we all feel and don't have the courage to speak." 

It is not long before her identity as la musa de la patria is revealed, 
attracting the attention of those in power and those she inspires. Not 
yet 20, she marries a young suitor in love with her art, if not with the 
artist herself. He later leaves her and the children to study medicine in 
Prance, 

As a poet, Salome envisions a free society; but as an educator, she 
works to shape it, In an era when even the daughters of the wealthy 
are discouraged from literacy, Salome founds the Instituto de Scnorilas, 
taking on "the hard work of rebuilding my patria, girl by girl." 

Her daughter, Camila, also becomes an educator, teaching in Cuba 
after her family goes into exile there. But it isn't long before she is 
driven by Batista's threats to the United States, where she takes a job 
teaching Spanish at Vassar. At retirement age, she returns to Cuba to 
volunteer in the literacy programs initiated after the revolution. 

In the stories of Salome and Camila, their parents, husbands, chil- 
dren, siblings, compatriots, lovers are echoes of the Butterflies and 
their families. We hear again the persistent questions: "What isapatria? 
A homeland? Who are we as a people? How do we serve?" And the 
enduring question Salome must direct to her husband as well as her 
country: "Is love stronger than anything else in the world?" 

For Salome's struggle is personal as well as political, familial as 
well as national. She and, to a lesser extent, her daughter must en- 
dure the suffocating patriarchy of an old-world society. Salome's 
struggle to breathe, however, is more than figurative. She suffers fre- 
quent bouts of asthma. Infected with tuberculosis, she succumbs at 
the age of 47, when Camila is but a young child. 

Salome and Camila are also victimized, in different ways, by atti- 
tudes about race and sexual orientation. In one of the revealing de- 
tails of the irovel, we learn that the artist painting the only surviving 
portrait of the national poet thinned her nose and straightened her 
hair to hide her mulatto features. Camila and especially her dark- 



46 The Mind's Eye 



Ben Jacques 



skinned brother, Pedro, a distinguished scholar and Harvard lecturer, 
face similar prejudice in the United States. In Washington, D.C., in the 
1920s, they are turned away from an elegant cafe serving only whites. 
Pedro complains of "the terrible moral disinheritance of exile." 

Camila also suffers the unbearable disapprobation of her brother, 
her soulmate, when he uncovers her affair with a woman. 

If anything, In the Name of Salome \s a call for inclusion, self-deter- 
mination, freedom, respect and tolerance. Reduced to the level of one 
person, one family, on any given street in any given city in the hemi- 
sphere, Alvarez seems to be saying, the struggle is the same. 

"I do think my writitrg gives voice to those who have no voice," 
Alvarez says. She acknowledges that her writing is political, in the 
way Neruda, Whitman and Maxine Hong Kingston are political. But if 
her writing has power, she believes, it is the power of the story — and 
of the words themselves. 

Like lrer poetry, Alvarez' prose is vigorous and vivid. Seasoned 
lightly with Spanish, her English often sings with the cadences of Span- 
ish. Her descriptions are apt — she went to great pains to research 19th- 
century scenes — and her metaphors are evocative.. In prerevolulion 
Cuba, Camila asks the stuttering artist who is sculpting a figure of her 
mother, using her as a model, to call her by her first name. "She has 
noticed with a little thrill that he never stumbles over her name. Camila, 
he says it clearly each time, like cracking open a shell without ever 
bruising the enclosed almond." 

Alvarez' use of language is shaped by her bilingual, bicultural past 
and present. A "Vermont writer from the Dominican Republic," as she 
calls herself in an essay in Something to Declare, she moves in two worlds, 
She and her husband divide their time between Vermont, where she 
is writer in residence at Middlebury College, and their coffee farm in 
the Dominican mountains, which they operate as a collective with 
area farmers. 

what she says about Butterflies is also true for In the Name of Salome: 
"Writing the novel led me to connect deeply not only with my charac- 
ters, but with the Dominican Republic. I had to become a Latin Ameri- 
can again." In the postscript of Butterflies, she explains further: "For I 



The Mind's Eye 47 



Ben Jacques 

wanted to immerse my readers in an epoch in the life of the Domini- 
can Republic that f believe can only finally be understood by fiction, 
only finally be redeemed by the imagination. A novel is not, after all, 
a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart." 

Nowhere is this illustrated better than in the last chapter of In the 
Name of Salome. Working in Cuba's literacy program in 1973, Camila 
has been sent to read to women in a coffee cooperative while they sort 
coffee beans. One day she sets aside the official reading materials and 
instead recites a short poem by her mother: 

There sleeps my little one, all mine! 
There sleeps the angel who enchants my world! 

I look up from my book a dozen times, 
Absorbed with him, I haven't read a word. 

Hands come to rest, and all eyes turn to the aging pwfesora. Mothers 
and daughters, they have heard. For a moment in their difficult, sweaty 
lives, they forget about the foreman and the pressure to make quota. 
They have been entranced by words affirming the sacredness of life, 
their lives. "The real revolution," Camila muses, "can only be won by 
the imagination." 



Note: Unfortunately for the bilingual reader. In the Name of Salome 
doesn't include Ureria's poems in Spanish, though Alvarez translates 
small portions into English. Several Spanish collections have been 
published in the Dominican Republic and Spain. The latest, Poesias 
completas, was published in Santo Domingo by the Comision 
Permanente de la Feria Nadonal del Libro in 1997. 



48 The Mind's Eye 



Film Review 



Traffic: Drugs or 
Vouchers, Anyone? 



BY MEERA TAMAYA 



he movie Traffic won a Golden Globe for its scriptwriter, Stephen 



Gaghan, and an Oscar for its director, Steven Soderbergh. The 



latter's recent movies Erin Rrockavkh and Traffic are widely dif- 
ferent in cinematic technique and are highly entertaining and instruc- 
tive. Both deal with urgent social issues: the first with environmental 
pollution by the Pacific Gas fr Electric Company and the second with 
the futile drug war waged by the U.S. government. 

Traffic, based on the British TV movie Traffik, focuses on all aspects 
of drug smuggling: its point of origin in Mexico, especially Tijuana, 
controlled by competing drug fords; its distribution by a "respectable" 
businessman and his socialite wife in California; and, finally, the con- 
stant and unwinnable war against the whole billion-dollar business 
by the DEA and Robert Wakefield, the drug czar appointed by the 
American President. Wakefield, as played by Michael Douglas, is an 
honest man who tries to acquaint himself with all aspects of the war 
on drugs, but who is initiaily unaware that his own seemingly perfect 
daughter, a National Merit Scholar, has been initiated by her preppy 
boyfriend into the ecstasy of freebasing cocaine. 




The Mind's Eye 49 



Meera Tamaya 

The movie does what all good movies and, if I may risk a gener- 
alization, good art should do: knock the ground off your secure, quo- 
tidian existence, thrust you, all disbelief suspended, into an alien, un- 
imaginable but richly realized and detailed world and keep you on the 
edge of your seat, without a moment's letup, for the entire duration of 
the movie. The visual storytelling, combined with dialogue that sounds 
real while at the same time making the points the scriptwriter and 
director want to make and, of course, superb acting, all of which Traf- 
fic has plenty of, assures us this edge-of-the-seat experience. 

First, there is the surprise of color: The Mexican scenes are shot in 
sepia and ocher, the scenes with the drug czar have a blue underwater 
tinge and the California scenes, centered mostly on the beautiful, so- 
cial-climbing wife (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) of the drug dis- 
tributor, are in dazzling color. These choices are brilliant, suggestive 
of the poverty in Mexico that makes drug production a lucrative means 
of survival, the bureaucracy's clueless earnestness and the colorful 
results of drug dealing and use. Since the story lines are multiple and 
interweaving, the use of color helps us stay on track in the labyrin- 
thine world of drug smuggling. Crosscutting and montage allow the 
editor to present intricate story lines simultaneously, and with great 
clarity. There is both sweep and detail. 

The portraits of the sadistic Mexican drug czar, General Salazar, 
whose courtly manners make his use of torture to extract confessions 
all the more horrifying, the businessman/drug kingpin's wife, whose 
initial horror at discovering her husband's real business turns into cold- 
blooded self-interest at all costs and, finally, and most poignantly, 
Wakefield's daughter, who haunts the tenderloin districts of Cincin- 
nati, and her degradation as she prostitutes herself for a fix, are all 
vividly detailed. 

And this is where I would like to register my one, but major, ca- 
veat against the film. The pathos of the movie, almost unbearable at 
times, springs from white, upper-middle-class suffering. Wakefield's 
family, particularly his daughter, are the victims whose faces are cap- 
tured in agonizing close-ups. While everyone else is morally am- 
biguous, the wholly innocent are white middle-class children. White 



50 The Mind's Eye 



Meera Tamaya 



adolescents haunt predominantly black neighborhoods in search of 
drugs. The preppy boyfriend defends black dealers in an impassioned 
speech to Wakefield: What do you expect poor blacks to do when 
white upper-class kids flood black neighborhoods, begging for drugs, 
offering to pay three times the street value? Wouldn't you supply the 
demand? Or words to that effect. It is economics, stupid. Where there 
is demand, the supply will never cease. 

True enough, but the movie that purports to take a comprehen- 
sive and in-depth look at drug smuggling ignores the devastation caused 
by drugs among poor blacks and whites and all the shades in between. 
Crack is mostly the drug of choice among the poor, because it is rela- 
tively cheap. Crack-addicted mothers who prostitute themselves in 
roach-and-rat-infested abandoned buildings, who give birth to addicted 
babies, are not photogenic. Freebasing cocaine in plush surroundings 
or even squalid hotels is a lot more pathos-inducing, especially when 
it is followed by rehabilitation in sylvan surroundings. Alas, the movie, 
despite its many and undeniable merits, does not escape Hollywood 
blinkers— it ignores the difference class makes in drug addiction and 
pretends that all of America— at least all of America that matters— is 
white and affluent. A myth, one of many, that serves to bolster and 
sustain a Republican government, ft is not difficult to imagine Presi- 
dent Bush offering vouchers for those who seek drug rehabilitation. 



The Mind's Eye 5\ 



Book Review 



Satire or Self-Hatred? 



tut Angel belongs to that very enjoyable genre — the campus 



novel. As practiced by David Lodge and Richard Russo, it has 



a nice blend of satire and a sort of dilettante's overview of the 
"intellectual" issues that periodically roil academic campuses in En- 
gland and America. David Lodge, in particular, manages to combine 
satire and sympathy while taking on current feuds among literary theo- 
rists as well as tensions between town and gown in Small World and 
Nice Work. In Blue Angel, set in an elite private college in Vermont, 
Francine Prose targets political correctness, particularly as it manifests 
itself in issues of sexual harassment, reminiscent of the witch-hunts 
conducted by the early Puritan settlers. 

Initially, the novel is a good read: The prose is seamless, the plot 
ingenious and the protagonist, Swenson, a professor of creative writ- 
ing who has not written anything since his acclaimed first novel, is a 
believable, sympathetic character, whose point of view informs the 
novel. The title Blue Angel alludes to the movie in which Marlene 
Dietrich plays a coidhearted nightclub singer who torments an infatu- 
ated professor. When Swenson, a faithful husband and caring father, 
comes across a genuinely gifted student in a largely mediocre class, he 



Blue Angel by Francine Prose 
Harper Collins, 2000 



BY ME ERA TAMAYA 




52 The Mind's Eye 



Meera Tamaya 



is shaken out of his customary ennui. The student is loaded with 
metal studs and rings on every conceivable part of her body, has or- 
ange and green hair, wears unrelieved black and combat boots and 
her stories about her parents and childhood are riddled with discrep- 
ancies. That none of these sound warning bells in the addled, besotted 
brain of the professor says a great deal about his self-absorption and 
consequent obtuseness. Even when the nubile young girl aggressively 
seeks out Swenson's help in enlisting his agent, the infatuated profes- 
sor does not step on the brakes of his middle-aged ardor. As he sees it, 
"There's something erotic about the act of teaching, all that informa- 
tion streaming back and forth like some bodily fluid. Doesn't Genesis 
trace sex to that first bite of apple, not the fruit from just any tree, 
but the Tree of Knowledge?"(22). This in a small ingrown college 
that decorates its walls with portraits of the fire-and-brimstone 18th- 
century preacher Jonathan Edwards, and whose academic dean is deter- 
mined to hunt down the slightest hint of anything sexual between teacher 
and students. Inevitably, the denouement becomes all too predictable. 

The novel begins promisingly enough with a judicious mixture of 
the satire and sympathy characteristic of a campus novel, but in the 
second half, the sympathy unaccountably dries up, especially with re- 
gard to the women characters. Women friends become vengeful 
Eumenides, and even Swenson's wife, a sort of kindly earth mother, 
becomes harsh and turns out to be a lesbian. Does one have to be a 
lesbian to turn against a husband who is obsessed with a student? 
Especially when the student is so disturbed that she has attempted 
suicide several times? 

Political correctness and its attendant hysteria sweep across the 
country from time to time, but given the fact that men have tradition- 
ally considered women easy and rightful prey for their attentions, 
whether welcome or not, the hysteria may be seen as a corrective 
swing of the pendulum to the other, perhaps regrettable, extreme, 
Prose is so hell-bent on bashing political correctness that she fails to 
see that its opposite, political incorrectness, has down the ages led to 
unimpeded victimization of the powerless. Indeed, so extreme is her 
invective toward the end, and so black and white her characteriza- 
tion, with the men portrayed as hapless victims of predatory women, 



The Mind's Eye 53 



Meera Tamaya 



that this reader was left wondering whether Prose does not hate 
women— an aspect of self-hatred that lurks even among the most in- 
telligent of subjugated groups, a self-hatred that has its origins in the 
realization, perhaps unconscious, that the best means of survival is by 
identifying and colluding with powerful oppressors. 

A good satirist mocks everything impartially, but, alas. Prose is far 
too partisan. By focusing on one aspect of political debates, she is guilty 
of the very extremes of the ideological warfare that she satirizes. So 
the novel, which starts out as a pleasure to read, declines into a mo- 
rose, one-sided invective that does justice neither to the characters 
nor to the issues. 



54 The Mind's Eye 



Review Essay 



Finding the Heart in 

Darkness 



The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver 
HarperPerennial, 1999 

BY ROBERT BENCE 



t first glance. The Poisonwood Bible did not seem destined to 



excite this reviewer. Yes, it is set in the Congo during the 



_V_ turbulent political times of the 1960s, and this context is the 
only reason 1 gave popular novelist Barbara Kingsolver's best-seller a 
chance. But I doubted that the characters and the organizational style 
would hold my interest. Both narrative and reflections are presented 
by the American characters, a missionary's wife and their four 
daughters, Insight into African minds is slim to none. However, if 
one accepts this narrow focus of Kingsolver's attention, wow, what 
an amazing job she has done of giving a fresh and female perspec- 
tive on the heart-of-darkness theme. 

The story fine is fairly simple, and almost predictable. A severely 
unprepared missionary, self- destructively nursing an inner guilt and 
anger, drags initially servile wife and four naive daughters to an iso- 
lated mission in what was then the Belgian Congo just prior to a ma- 
jor political and social upheaval. Few travelers to Africa have had the 
cards stacked against them as much as this family. Through narratives 
of the five women, we read about their past, their reactions to life at 
the mission and later reflections on the impact of these experiences on 





The Mind's Eye 55 



Robert Beme 



their lives. Kingsolver sets the tone with "What do we know, even 
now? We can only speak of the things we carried with us, and the 
things we took away." The author masterfully helps us understand 
what the women took away, and what they left, even though the 
characters may not always have understood the impact of Africa on 
their family and their individual lives. 

As the story develops, it beconies almost painfully clear that what 
the five women need to leave behind, literally and figuratively, is their 
male authority figure. The Reverend Nathan Price is almost a throw- 
back to 17th-century Calvinism. He is portrayed as an exaggerated 
zealot who continually sees life as a fairly joyless test of wills. For him, 
Africans are descended from the Tribes of Ham, naked people who 
have a darkness of skin and soul. He can learn nothing from the local 
Congolese about even basic agriculture (such as how to avoid the sting 
of poisonwood), much less spiritual nuances. Africa eventually chews 
up and spits out this kind of folk, and we readers know his fate is 
doomed, The mystery is whether or not his wife and children can 
escape in time. And, of course, escaping from the past is never easy or 
complete. 

The rest of the family vaguely resembles the stranded passengers 
on Gilligan's Island, though infinitely more complex. The eldest daugh- 
ter, Rachel, is a self -focused teenager, primarily concerned with beauty 
and wealth as they are defined in 1950s United States. Twin sisters 
Leah and Adah are more thoughtful, but they differ on their approach 
to and acceptance of Africa and their choice of coping mechanisms. 
Ruth May, the youngest girl, represents innocence and joy for life. 
The mother, as is usually the case, struggles to hold this family to- 
gether through challenges she can only begin to understand. 

Tropical heat, rain, drought, diseases, insects and culture shock 
are almost always sufficient factors to overwhelm any misplaced group. 
But Kingsolver overlays this poor family with another level of unfath- 
omable confusion and anguish, the first major Cold War struggle in 
Africa. She slowly weaves in some of the details of Congolese inde- 
pendence, the deployment of western forces in search of indigenous 
Marxists and the execution of populist Patrice Lumumba by a Un- 
supported army. The Price family's knowledge of the geopolitical 

56 The Mind's Eye 



Robert Bence 



nature of their travails is limited by their inability to understand the 
lingua franca and comprehend the depth of the human drama that is 
unfolding in front of them. Ironically, their level of information and 
understanding is about the same as that of their confused fellow citi- 
zens on the other side of the Atlantic, safely viewing brief newsreels of 
images of uniformed black men with unpronounceable names, While 
one daughter would eventually stay in the Congo (soon to become 
Zaire, ruled by U.S. -supported dictator Mobutu) and come to under- 
stand and love Africa and Africans, as well as fight for justice, basic 
survival is the only option for what is left of the family. Heroes and 
heroines seldom emerge from such quests into the heart of darkness. 

Kingsolver's use of well-researched U.S. foreign policy in this work 
is impressive. Placing characters in calamitous historical events adds 
to the drama of a novel, but the author's use of the first Congolese 
civil war is, unintentionally or not, quite insightful. Both the National 
Security Council and most members of the Price family, especially the 
father, oversimplify the Congo, evaluate it and react to it with inap- 
propriate constructs of reality and expectation. The fictitious Rever- 
end Price and the real Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (who died 
in 1959 but played a huge role in setting the tone for U.S. foreign 
policies) shared a narrow-minded, sanctimonious, good-versus-evil 
view of the world. There were no gray areas in their crusades to pro- 
mote "civilization." And when their constructs failed, as they had to 
eventually, most of the Prices and the U.S. government ran for per- 
sonal and political safety, leaving the Congo, as well as their own fam- 
ily and society, worse off. One wonders if the U.S. State Department 
has reflected as much on its traumatic involvement in the Congo as 
Kingsolver's characters have. My own brief experience at the Zaire 
desk at Foggy Bottom makes me doubt it. 

So, besides some insights into tragic U.S. African policies, what is 
the appeal of this novel? The totalities of most characters are difficult 
to accept as real. The missionary family often acts as if it lives in 1760 
instead of I960. As a former resident of the Bible Belt, I have never 
witnessed anything close to the impenetrable fanaticism Kingsolver 
ascribes to Reverend Price. Although the wife and daughters may be 
a tad more realistically portrayed and their individual transformations 



The Mind's Eye 57 



Robert Bence 



may hold the interest of many readers, their naivete often seems over- 
stated. A positive judgment on the depth of Kingsolver's characteriza- 
tions is not prerequisite for connecting with this book. What touched 
me was the eventual ability of some of the characters to reflect less on 
themselves and more on Africa and Africans. At least one of the sisters 
begins to see how tolerant, polite and helpful the African village resi- 
dents were during the Price family's traumatic adventures, while the 
misplaced Americans remained oblivious to some extraordinary out- 
reaches from their fellow humans. Offers of marriage were made to 
ease the burden on their family — Price family complaints about food 
scarcity were tolerated with a smile by the malnourished locals — Afri- 
cans graciously responded to denigrating remarks about their historic 
beliefs and practices. Like other western travelers to Africa, the Prices 
are blinded by their own sense of deprivation to the kindness of those 
who are really deprived. 

For me, reading The Poisonwood Bible brought back memories of 
my own, albeit much less dangerous and dramatic, travels in Africa. I 
thought about the times I visibly winced or whined about the lack of 
comfort and amenities, only later recognizing the patience and gener- 
ous self-sacrifices shown by my accommodating hosts. Once while 
working and living in a small village in southern Sudan, I casually 
mentioned to our Sudanese hosts that we would be interested in meet- 
ing some of the area's elusive nomads. Three days later, a driver in an 
antiquated dump truck showed up at our door, and we were offered 
the opportunity to drive up into the hills to visit and share some warm 
camel's milk with a family of nomads in a nearby encampment. Our 
Suda nese friends ha d somehow secured some rare aluminum lawn chairs 
in an attempt to make our journey comfortable. At the end of the rainy 
season, the road was potholed and we bounced all over the bed of the 
truck in the flimsy chairs. Most of them broke before we completed the 
journey, and we arrived an hour later, shaken and somewhat ill. It was 
only later that we realized what a complex logistical task our friends 
had undertaken. Trucks were rare, gas was being rationed and hu- 
man and material resources were scarce, m our discomfort, we did 
not realize what great efforts our friends had expended in order to 



58 The Mind's Eye 



Robert Bence 



satisfy our curiosity. Similar episodes of extreme generosity would be 
repeated over and over again. 

What skilled diplomats Africans are — they silently anguish about 
visitor comfort and are quietly tending to the needs of their unappre- 
ciative and culturally unaware guests, ignoring potentially hurtful char- 
acterizations of their societies. Fortunately, we have novels such as 
The Poisonwood Bible to remind us that the understated kindness of 
Africans is one of the things we should acknowledge and carry away 
from Africa. 



The Mind's Bye 59 



Contributors 



Robert Bence has taught political science at Massachusetts College 
of Liberal Arts since 1976. He has presented numerous papers, many 
of them on Canada and Canadian studies. In 1992, he was a visiting 
professor at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. His book 
reviews have appeared in The Mind 's Eye, The American Review of Cana- 
dian Studies, Africa Today and New Directions in Teaching. 

Eileen Gloster is co-owner of Papyri Books in North Adams and a 
part-time reference librarian at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. 
She is also a freelance journalist and a writer of poetry, plays and the 
occasional short story. Her poetry has been published in several IocdI 
publications, including The Berkshire Review, and a play she cowrote, 
Bossa Nova, was performed as part of a competition of 10-minute plays 
in Washington, D.C. 

Colin Harrington's work has appeared in a number of anthologies 
and literary journals. He lives in Windsor, Massachusetts, and teaches 
in the Amherst public schools. 

Ben Jacques teaches English and communications at Massachusetts 
College of Liberal Arts. His feature article on the poetry and prose of 
Julia Alvarez was published in the February issue of Americas maga- 
zine. His poems, stories and articles have appeared in several publica- 
tions, including The Mind's Eye. 

Karen Pepper leaches composition in the English/Communications 
Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She has deliv- 
ered papers at several professional conferences and writes poetry as 
well as academic prose. 



60 The Minds Eye 



Gerol Petruzella is a graduating senior at Massachusetts College of 
Liberal Arts. He is a member of the Alpha Chi and Phi Theta Kappa 
national honor societies, as well as a student member of the American 
Philosophical Association. He intends to combine his interests in phi- 
losophy and classical language as he pursues a doctorate in classical 
philosophy at SUNY Buffalo. 

Stephen Philbrick is a minister in Cummington, Massachusetts, and 
works part-time at a local general store. A former shepherd, he has 
helped perpetuate the orphic tradition here in Berkshire County. His 
two published books of poetry are No Goodbye and Up to the Elbow. 

Greg Scheckler is an assistant professor at Massachusetts College of 
Liberal Arts, where he teaches visual art, interdisciplinary art and arts 
management. Since 1990, his creative work has been exhibited in 34 
shows, primarily in the Midwest. 

Meera Tamaya is a professor of English at Massachusetts College of Lib- 
eral Arts, where she teaches courses on Shakespeare and other distin- 
guished writers. She is the author of the book Colonial Detection: H. R. E 
Keating, as well as articles on John Sherwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Marga- 
ret Atwood. Barbara Pym and Shakespeare. Her book An Interpretation 
of Hamlet Based on Recent Developments in Cognitive Studies was published 
in February by the Edwin Mellen Press. 



The Mind's Eye 61 



62 The Mind's Eye 



The MindS Eye 61 



64 The Mind's Bye 



Mind's Eye 

Writer's Guidelines 



While emphasizing articles of scholarly merit, The Mind's Eye focuses on a general 
communication of ideas of interest to a liberal, arts college. We welcome expository 
essays as well as fiction. We publish twice a year. The deadline for the Fall issue is 
July 15. Deadline lor the Spring issue is January 15. 

Submissions should adhere to these guidelines: 

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While we make every attempt to safeguard your manuscript and disk, we cannot be 
held responsible for their loss. 

4. Use MLA or APA style, with in-text references, as appropriate to the content and 
disciplinary approach of your article (see MLA or APA stylebooks for guidelines). 

5. While we will consider articles of unspecified length, preference is given to 
articles of under 20 pages. 

6. We reserve the right to edit for clarity and accuracy, 

7. We will consider one-color artwork (e.g., photographs, line drawings, woodcuts). 

8. Payment will be made in contributor's copies. 



Submit your manuscript to: 

The Mind's Bye 
Tony Gengarelly. Managing Editor 
Campus Box 9132 
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 
375 Church Street 
North Adams, MA 01247 
For queries: agengare@mda.mass.edu